Iron Deficiency; Is the Most Prominent Deficiency.
Hi I’m Kerry, I’m a naturopath and a lecturer,
In my work training naturopaths and in seeing patients in my clinic the most common deficiency I see is iron deficiency, followed closely by Vitamin D.
People believe because they are meat eaters that iron deficiency won’t occur for them, this simply isn’t true.
There is so much more to iron deficiency than just eating meat. There are a few important factors about iron absorption that most people won’t think about
There are some meat eaters that eat little fruit and veg and this can lead to iron deficiency. How? Low Vitamin C intake.
Vitamin C is our essential nutrient that is needed to absorb iron. If we aren’t getting plenty of fresh fruit and veg we won’t absorb our iron, no matter how much meat you eat.
Other factors are our digestive quality. Are we digesting our iron? low hydrochloric acid will cause many deficiencies iron included… nutrients the need HCL include B12, Calcium, Zinc and protein.
- Iron helps convert food to energy
Our bodies need iron to convert food to energy. Iron plays a vital role in the process by which cells generate energy. Human cells require iron in order to convert biochemical energy from nutrients into ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) from a multi-step process known as cellular respiration; ATP is the body’s primary energy source. Without sufficient iron, less ATP can be produced, which is another reason why those lacking iron are easily tired and fatigued.
- Iron increases our oxygenation. Iron is an important component of hemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to transport it throughout your body. Hemoglobin represents about two-thirds of the body’s iron. If you don’t have enough iron, your body can’t make enough healthy oxygen-carrying red blood cells
- Iron helps maintain a normal immune system
Iron is necessary for immune cells creation and maturation, particularly lymphocytes, which are associated with helping us to keep healthy. Lower iron levels may contribute to an increased risk of our immune systems being compromised and our bodies falling sick.
- Iron contributes to normal cognitive function
Iron plays an important role in maintaining normal cognitive function. Cognitive function includes brain functions such as memory, attention (concentration), alertness, learning, intelligence, language, and problem solving. Maintaining a sufficient level of iron in our bodies helps us to ensure our brain is performing at it’s best in the office without having to rely on that shot of caffeine in the morning!
- Iron and thyroid function- The thyroid is the part of the body which monitors and implements metabolism. If the thyroid gland runs low on iron, the chemical reactions that produce thyroid hormone cannot proceed normally. Iron deficiency reduces thyroid hormone synthesis. The iron-dependent enzyme uses iodine ions and hydrogen peroxide to generate iodine which plays a central role in the production of thyroid hormones. Without it metabolism slows down and all the symptoms of hypothyroidism can occur.
- Iron and Mood- Iron effects mood altering hormones called neurotransmitters, these neurotransmitters can change your mood. One of the most famous neurotransmitters is serotonin which is a hormone that helps us feel calm and happy, It is also needed to create melatonin our sleep hormone (so then insomnia strikes). Dopamine is another mood altering hormone which is decreased in iron deficiency dopamine is notable for giving you a rush of excitement like going on a rollercoaster or playing a video game. Dopamine helps you to feel motivated. GABA is another neurotransmitter which helps you to feel calm and relaxed and again is depleted when iron is depleted. you can probably see now how iron deficiency impact greatly on your mood and your sleep.
How to increase your iron status:
First make sure your digestion is working properly check these questions- if you answer no then it probably means your digestion is ok, however if you have answers with yes then maybe you need to increase your HCL
- Do you bloat straight after eating?
- Do you burp a lot?
- Do you feel digestive distress after eating meat?
- Or high protein meals?
- Do you notice indigested food in your stool?
- Are you on an antacid?
If you answered yes follow this link to find out how to increase your hydrochloric acid (HCL) click here.
Other things to think about are
- Are you following a vegan or vegetarian diet? now don’t get me wrong I am vegan and have a fine iron status but I make sure I eat all the food sources for plant based iron.
- Are you getting enough Vitamin C? I.e fresh fruit and vegetables. there is nothing that can replace how good these are for you!
If you suspect you are iron deficient go to a doctor and request an iron studies test, they will confirm this with a routine blood test.
There are many ways to get iron in your diet whether you eat meat or not. However if you are suffering with iron deficiency which comes back over and over again, or if your iron supplements are causing problems with your digestion it may be worth seeing the naturopath to help you correct the ongoing problem.
Contact – Kerry Dean Balance Naturopathy Or call 0412241198 to arrange your free 10 min consult. We can see if a booking is the right fit for you.
Parsley contains iron and vitamins A,C and K.
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